Unless I’m engrossed by the novel — like neglect to do anything else other than finish reading type of engrossment — I often cannot finish it.
Everything was going right this summer, expect finishing lighthearted summer read. To remedy this, I spent over an hour browsing the fiction section until I spotted a gem in the rough, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.
As I was reading it, it dawned upon me that most books that I enjoy are either centered around quirky and socially inept characters or has surreal plots that takes over my entire mind until I see how it ends.
To see if it’s true, I’m going to list novels that I enjoyed during the last decade and half.
The last five years
1. The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson – I started reading this in NYC and finished it in Korea. Regardless of the city, I often missed my subway stops because I was so occupied by the book.
2. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – I picked up the book at Kyobo in Korea and was a breeze to read through. I loved the quirkiness and the predictable nature of the book.
3. The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion – Wasn’t as good as the first one but still a fun read.
4. The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker – What a fascinating read! A murder mystery that unravels a small town! I just wish that more of his books are translated in English.
5. Miracles of the Namiya General Store [나미야 잡화점의 기적] by Keigo Higashino – I drew diagrams to follow this book! I’m really glad that I was able to read Korean because I would’ve missed out on a truly touching story. Also, Korean book industry has so many more translated novels than in America. Wonder why that’s the case.
6. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka – Picked this book on a whim at my parent’s library, which was my brother’s book from ages ago — and I remember reading this book on their patio and being amazed until the end. And that’s how I got into Kafka.
7. The Trial by Franz Kafka – Kafka.
8. My Wish List by Gregoire Delacourt – This was a really touching book that I think I bought during my travels from US to Korea. And I remember feeling that it was the perfect book for me at the time — not entirely sure what the situation was, but it left me feeling delighted and hopeful.
9. The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance of Katherines, Looking for Alaska, etc by John Greene — At the lowest point of my time in Korea, John Greene’s YA novels saved my soul. I escaped by reality by jumping into the world of teenagers.
10. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan – A book about bookstores! Count me in. Geeky yet thrilling book was an excellent read.
11. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple – Another fascinating tale from a child’s perspective! Thought that I’d be her fan forever, but not feeling her second book.
Approximately ten years ago
1. Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons, Deception Point, DaVinci Code, and some that I’m forgetting — Dan Brown is equivalent to my college years. I started reading this during my exchange in London and remember reading this on our Europe Contiki tour with my sister. Fun times.
2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera – I read a quote from this book from a psychology or consumer behavior research paper and was completely mesmerized by it. I went on a hunt to find the book and was amazed by the clarity and wit of Kundera’s sentences. I need to read more of his books.
3. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand – I still remember reading this book during my sophomore summer break at my parent’s house in NJ. I would plop down in the family room, and just read all day and everyday until I finished the book.
4. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden – I wish that he wrote more books! The movie of course did not do the book justice, however, I cannot recall if I saw the movie first or read the book first. Either way, it was one of those psychological thrillers that I enjoyed throughly.
I’m forgot a lot for the ~10 years ago section, but this exercise was helpful in understanding what I like.
Mindless stories about dramatic industries that are set in NYC, secret society mysteries where characters use their wits to solve the puzzle, stories about dysfunctional family and/or individuals, and surreal plots are my jam.
I can no longer say that I do not read novels. I’ve read plenty it seems!
Photo by Laëtitia Buscaylet on Unsplash